This Week’s TV Highlights: The X-Factor, Red or Black, The Jonathan Ross Show, The Last Weekend, Our War, Waterloo Road, Parade’s End
Another week of TV highlights, including at least one that will be with us for the rest of the year, and plenty of new and returning dramas to wet your whistle. More below.
Red or Black?/The X-Factor/The Jonathan Ross Show (ITV1, Sat, from 7:15pm)
It does feel like the year is moving incredibly fast as we’re already looking at shows that will be with us till Christmas. First up is the surprising return of Red or Black? The programme that suffered from both critical backlash and low viewing figures while it courted controversy throughout its run yet it has been bought back. We’re told that the format has been altered slightly in order to increase interest however there are still two instalments either side of the reality juggernaut that is The X-Factor…
Yes we’re back once again with the first series of The X-Factor which will obviously be suffering from reality show fatigue in its ninth season, however the ultimate failure of The Voice proved that we care about character as much as we do about talent. Louis Walsh, Tulisa and Gary Barlow all return, while a revolving door of guest judges, including Geri Halliwell who features tonight, will be sitting in Kelly Rowland’s chair until Nicole Scherzinger turns up during Boot Camp. ITV1 will finish the night with the return of Jonathan Ross, who has a range of guests from Olympians Tom Daley and Jessica Ennis to Colin Farrell, who will be on to talk about his role in the Total Recall remake. Whatever you think of Ross you can’t argue that he’s still a popular character and that his show still attracts big name stars, and I think that altogether this looks like a cracking Saturday night line-up.
The Last Weekend (ITV1, Sun, 9pm)
After the average 13 Steps Down, ITV1 are hitting us with another psychological drama, this time an adaptation of Blake Morrison’s novel about a poor primary school teacher Ian and his wife Em who go to stay at their rich friend Olly’s country house for a weekend. Obviously things don’t work out well as soon arguments occur between the two about class and status, while also there’s a romantic rivalry as Olly and Em were lovers prior to her marriage to Ian. Rupert Penry-Jones and Shaun Evans, who were both great in Silk, star as Olly and Ian respectively in what is the first of four episodes. The Last Weekend is proper old school Sunday night drama, full of suspense as the narrative involves flash-forwards and Ian’s shaky narrative to camera whatever happens I’m sure you’ll be hooked by the end of episode one.
Our War (BBC3, Mon, 9pm)
After beating the excellent Educating Essex to the Best Documentary Series prize at this year’s BAFTA TV Awards, it was clear to me that the excellent Our War was returning for a second series. For anyone who missed it the first time around, the series follows soldiers during different missionsi in Afghanistan with the majority of the episode edited together from personal first-hand footage. This series firstly concentrates on the men of Arnhem Company 2nd Battalion Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment during an Operation entitled Kick The Hornet’s Nest, which they carried out in August of 2010. The mission is to draw Taliban fire away from ‘Route Trident’ a vital under construction road and instead rove through a Taliban bed-down however the mission doesn’t come without a lot of bloodshed along the way. Our War is a totally unique show as the footage in this first episode comes entirely from helmet cams, video phones or stills to give you a real first-hand feel of war, not to be missed.
Waterloo Road (BBC1, Thurs, 8pm)
Due to BBC budget cuts, they’ve moved a lot of their pivotal shows around with BBC Breakfast under critical fire after their move to Salford and Casualty carrying on as normal, despite moving Holby from Bristol to Cardiff. Unlike Casualty, the staff and students of Waterloo Road school have freely admitted that they are upping sticks and moving to Scotland following the closure of the original school in Burnley. The new series sees head teacher Michael Byrne team up with former pupil turned business success Lorraine Donnegan, to set up a free school in Greenock where some of the original students from the Waterloo Road school return in a new boarding house overseen by the larger-than-life former dinner lady and her husband-to-be stick-in-the-mud veteran teacher Grantley. As well as the move, Waterloo Road welcomes two new staff members with Laurie Brett, better known as Jane from Eastenders, playing alcoholic English teacher Christine Mulgrew, while Georgie Glen is playing formidable history teacher Audrey McFall. As always there’s troubled students, bullying problems and administrative strain but this Grange Hill for the 21st Century is still as entertaining as ever.
Parade’s End (BBC2, Fri, 9pm)
It’s an odd move to have a costume drama on a Friday night, however Parade’s End may still attract large viewing figures due to it starring Sherlock Holmes himself, Benedict Cumberbatch, in the lead role. In this five part adaptation of Ford Maddox Ford’s four novels, Cumberatch stars as the ‘Cleverest Man in London’ Christopher Tietjens, whose marriage to Rebecca Hall’s socialite Sylvia is about to crumble. As this Edwardian drama is adapted by legendary playwright Tom Stoppard, you know that it’s going to be gripping, even if the Sherlock audience will be a bit flummoxed by what you see. Essentially, I feel this will play mostly to fans of Downton Abbey, although it’s not as mainstream as the stately home drama, as the pre-war setting gives it a familiar flavour as do the extravagant costumes. For me though it still feels a bit odd for this drama to be leading into the weekend when it could easily have aired on a Sunday night.
What do you make of my picks? Is there anything you think I’ve missed? Leave Your Comments Below.